Our CRV was up for registration renewal so I had my first experience of doing it Panamanian style!

The first step is a vehicle inspection by an authorized mechanic that really isn’t an inspection at all. They simply take a few pictures of your vehicle after you show proof of insurance, your title, and proof that the registration is due for the current month (they’ll send you away if you haven’t reached the month that your registration actually expires). At Quick Fix in Boquete, they did not look in the car to verify the mileage or look under the hood! I paid $20 and got my official Recibo De Matricula De Circulacion, and off I went. It took less than 15 minutes without an appointment.

Next step is to make a copy of your paperwork for the officials, and then take it to the Boquete Municipal Building (the same place where we pay our $80 YEARLY water and garbage bill — yes, you read that right, $80 for the year!). Sign another piece of paper and get it stamped (Panamanians love to stamp things . . . actually, that’s pretty true throughout Latin America). Go to the caja window, which is right next to the registration window, pay $32.00 for another stamp, and you’ll receive your shiny new license plate, windshield sticker, and registration paper. Yes, it’s a brand new license plate every year! It seems wasteful, but we understand that the plates are made by disadvantaged young people to help them learn a skill and give them a possible career path. If it’s teaching kids something and keeping them off the street, we’re cool with that!

Easy peasy and all done in less than half an hour!


  1. Glad it’s stamp, stamp, stamp, done! I look forward to your blog posts, I miss your presence on FB, but I understand why you’re off. I’m hoping we can get together for a girls lunch or evening out monthly! We’re under 60 days till Boquete, still lots to do.

  2. Wow! I thougbt it would be the complete opposite.
    And Double Wow on the $80 water and trash bill!

  3. We pay around $11/month for water and trash down here in David. Maybe it’s because the trash guys come twice a week. Life is rough here in Panama 😀

  4. oldsalt1942 Reply

    Latino love of stamping things…

    When I was getting ready to make my single-handed voyage from Ft. Lauderdale to Guatemala and back, my friend “Cheshire” Bill, whose boss kept his boat in Cozumel most of the time, told me how much the Mexicans loved stamping things. In fact, Bill had one of those embossers with the boat’s name and official number on it and he said that every official he dealt with got an enormous erection every time he embossed one of the many pieces of paper they required.

    I didn’t get an embosser, but I did go and get a rubber stamp made up with all the info needed.

    Sure enough, when I went through the check-in two-step at Isla Mujeres I brought my stamp and ink pad along. They’d stamp something and I’d add mine. That brought a huge smile to their faces and you could almost see the wheels turning as they’re thinking, “Now THIS guy knows how to do things right.” It was all I could do to keep a straight face. They weren’t so keen on it in Belize but the Customs, Immigration and the Port Captain in Livingston, Guatemala loved it almost as much as the Mexicans.

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